JOSEPH BALL | Dead Ghosts On TV
Joseph Ball’s Dead Ghosts on TV draws us into an alternate universe created by the interaction of his photographic equipment with his immediate environment. “Often the only way we could navigate our way around was by using the flash of our cameras,” Joseph shares about his nighttime treks that resulted in this series. In introducing an element of performance into his process, his images acquire an intriguing layer of abstraction. Joseph’s photography converses with its own medium, and aspires to challenge the medium’s possibilities. - Editor
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What brought you to photography?
Photography just seemed like an appropriate medium to express my thoughts with, which have been influenced by the way we consume and interact with the world. It's instantaneous and gratifying (characteristics of a lot of modern technology), yet simultaneously allows you to grind a moment to a halt and analyse and manipulate every detail, as well as see it in new contexts. My grandmother is a keen photographer, so that must have guided me towards images.
Who are your photographic influences?
The photographers I lived with during university have all helped spark and develop ideas. The conversations we have are invaluable really. I love comedians such as Reggie Watts and Stewart Lee, and writers like Donald Barthelme, who turn specific daily experiences into abstracts, that let us laugh at how ridiculous and interesting life can be. They'll often critique and stretch their own medium too, which I find interesting in any field. Music is another huge influence; Punk for it's DIY approach and Aphex Twin for utilising technology and attention to detail. All of these help get the cogs turning upstairs, so when you're out in the world (the biggest influence of all) you realise what might make an interesting photograph for you.
Tell us about the steps and processes that go into making your photographs.
I enjoy finding perspectives and situations to photograph, that would otherwise go unnoticed. This led me to shooting at night, scouting out obscure locations and using flashes to capture images. I like to feel like I'm immersed in my physical surroundings when I'm taking photos, and enjoy the details the camera won't capture. Often the harshness of the flash and cameras I use will create quite abstract representations, which I think emphasises an appropriate disconnection between the physical experiences and how photographs inform our memories and emotions. I'll then further remove the photos from the point of capture, by rephotographing, reprocessing, printing and scanning to exaggerate the mechanical processes involved in photography, that are often masked or ignored.
What does being a photographer bring to your life?
I think studying how we see things has just made me appreciate the planet, the internet and everything within those environments as some kind of ever-changing composition of colors, shapes and sounds. Not everything is idealised or beautiful. There's obviously things that exist that I don't agree with, or find idiotic or upsetting, but almost everything is interesting or educational in some way. Many photographers are just reflecting little bits of existence back at you, it's equally as fulfilling to just sit outside and watch what happens, in my eyes.
What is this project about?
It's about using photography as an excuse to do something unusual and immerse yourself in a new physical experience. George Kitchen (another photographer) and myself went out at night, to explore our local environment in dark (and often tempestuous) conditions. Often the only way we could navigate our way around was by using the flash of our cameras, creating an experience dictated by technology and the creation of images. The results look abstract and feel removed from reality, which seems appropriate at a time where disconnected, rapid-fire, visual information informs and colors our opinions and memories. These images were exhibited as large scale prints, in a blacked out room, with viewers having to use a flashgun to navigate the space, just as me and George did. Hopefully this brought the physical experience of creation back into the still images.